Up close with Toyota Racing at the Daytona 500

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Toyota invited me to Daytona Speedway to get a first hand look at how Toyota Racing has impacted NASCAR. The sport was traditionally exclusive to the big three American automotive manufactures (Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge), but in 2006, Toyota joined pit row for the Sprint Cup and the Xfinity Series. Toyota racing teams have gone on to win over a dozen titles. 

My experience at the track offered a unique look at what goes into creating a winning NASCAR team. I got to meet with drivers, crew chiefs and an engineer from Toyota Racing Division. I also got to drive a Toyota Tundra around Daytona Speedway during driver introductions. Here a few fun tidbits:

  • The engines used in NASCAR is specifically designed for the sport by Toyota Racing Division.
  • NASCAR puts restricter plates on the race cars for select tracks, such as Daytona.
  • The naturally aspirated V8s used in the Toyota NASCAR cars produce upwards of 750 horsepower – even in the trucks.
  • The Truck Series vehicles handle better than the Xfinity and Sprint Cup cars because the trucks produce more down force. The cars go faster though.
  • Most NASCAR drivers start out racing dirt track, versus Formula One drivers who start out racing Go-Karts.